Wednesday 25 April 2012

Player Advice: Follow Through

Part of our final session for the adventure on Sunday was a kind of post-mortem. I don't know about the rest of you; whether, once players are well clear of an adventure, it's usual for the DM to run down for them some of what they missed.

I get the feeling there might be some kind of Old School ex-cathedra edict against it, hidden somewhere in page 38 of the Dragonsfoot forum topics. After all, it breaks the kayfabe, gives players unearned knowledge benefits in the shadow currency of the exploration game, and generally screams utter capitulation to the  "let's surf the internet for spoilers" reflex of the Information Age.

But I was feeling generous. Just this once, right? And in the retelling I saw a lot of times where the players didn't follow through. They noticed a strange shape about the map but only speculated about a hidden compartment ... went through every setting on a device except the one that actually did anything ... hit a bump in the pool but did nothing to drag it up ... figured out the exact thing to do in order to get some sweet resources and, in the absence of any possible confirmation from me, then forgot to actually do it.

"Let me see that dungeon map ...." *STAMP*

Of course, we're playing for fun and we've had a lot of it. And maybe that's the point - that the fast and loose style of play leads to a lot of fun situations. Where "fun" arises from poking a button with your finger instead of an iron spike, tasting an unknown liquid found in the dungeon, or simply role-playing your barbarian fighter running full speed ahead into an army of kobolds.

Sometimes, even, checking your swing can save you from unimaginable fates.

But if you want my advice on how to prosper as an adventurer (yeah, wow, I'm getting soft as a DM), then ... Take notes, especially when you have an insight. Read those notes. Follow through on them.

This is the prosperity gospel of the well-designed dungeon.


In other news, my player Mike has summoned the hordes of reddit to view the player-created dungeon maps I posted yesterday and in a short 24 hours it has become my most viewed post of all time (yeah, beating that other one that cheated its way to the top because it shows up in people's Google image searches for 4th edition character sheets). Welcome, and I hope some of you stay a while!


  1. Hell yeah, those players better be taking notes! I'm not reminding them of stuff they missed, unless it's by having said missed stuff bite them in the ass! "Oh, you forgot about the barbarian horde that's been burning villages? Well, they're now outside the gates of the city! Good luck with that!"

  2. In a persistent setting, telling the players what their characters missed simply leads to the characters returning to pick it up! lol

    In addition, old-school-style dungeons often have things in odd corners not because it is expected that the party will check every corner, but in order to reward the corners that are checked.

    If players miss 20% of what the dungeon is stocked with, you can put more than 100% of what you expect them to walk out with, and allow for some cool moments. You can then "point back" to things that are missed in other adventure locations, sending the party back to the (restocked) dungeon, thus allowing (1) a sense of persistence in the milieu, and (2) replay value from previous design work.

  3. At the end of a campaign i like to go back over and have a "here's what was going on offstage" discussion with the players. I 'll give a broad recap of the adventures and the motivations of the major players, talk about important things that were missed, and even talk about other adventure options that the players didn't pursue.

    You could do some of that with players after every adventure under the understanding that what's past is past. Before you do, you should probably ask yourself why you're doing it. If you just want someone to appreciate some of your cleverness that got missed, publish it online and let your fellow DMs appreciate your work. If it's to give them pointers for the future then it might be worthwhile, though you should be careful that it doesn't seem like you're just rubbing their noses in their mistakes. You don't want to add a bad aftertaste to the fun they had.

  4. You need to add the +1 buttons to your post, or post on google+

    Excellent series.

  5. I save these wrapups for post-campaign, just because people could go back to them if they think of them later. I'll admit it's hard to sit on them for years but I've done it.

    Your advice is great, though - take notes, and read them and follow through on them. The corollary to that is, don't do too many things at once. If you've got a jumble of notes about 10-12 things you need to follow-up on, you won't. If you have 2-3 down, you're more likely to do it. Follow up on a few things to the finish and then sort out the rest later. A follow-up process is no different than any expedition - have a goal and pursue it without getting distracted too easily.

  6. Thanks, the general verdict seems to be thumbs down at least until the campaign ends. I guess I trust my players enough not to go back there and there were a few things that do inform the ongoing campaign, that I kept mum on.

    @C: Not sure how to add google +1's though I see my posts sometimes get them in the stats page. I'm generally reluctant to post gaming stuff on Google because I already use it for professional purposes and they're not very accommodating to split identities...

  7. @Roger

    Isn't that exactly what circles are for? You can restrict content so not only does it post to circles, only those in the circles can see it.

    In your blog layout section, which now looks radically different, you can add the social media buttons to your blog posts.